The answer at The Q tonight was the same as it was at the Bradley Center two weeks ago: LeBron James.
The King's encore after making 8/11 from deep at the Bradley Center? Even better accuracy (4/5) from long range. For James (23/8/4), the greatness was more subtle tonight, and he received more than enough help against a clearly outmanned Milwaukee team, winning 91-73.
The Bucks literally had no shot (37.3 %) in Ohio, where the Cavs improved to an impossible 27-1. They started cold as Cleveland jumped to a 6-0 lead, but managed to hang around for a couple quarters, mostly thanks to Richard Jefferson. In the end, far too many long, cold offensive stretches doomed the Bucks.
- Richard Jefferson. For a guy bidding to set a career low shooting from the field, RJ sure is shooting the ball well in a lot of ways lately. Jefferson continued the finest outside-shooting campaign of his career tonight, hitting 3-6 on threes. More amazing, the former Wildcat has made 31 consecutive free throws after a 6-6 effort this evening. He even outscored James tonight (29-24). And while RJ (0 assists) didn't trust his teammates, that was probably for the best.
- Luc Richard Mbah a Moute.The Principal sputtered in February, but he appears sharp thus far in March. Not only did the rookie provide a nice bit of defense (and two blocks), he made 5-6 from the field while his teammates suffered through an awful shooting night.
- Ramon Sessions. First it was Devin Harris who returned to Wisconsin and topped the Bucks, and now ex-Buck Mo Williams gets the win. But it's not like either point guard showed up Ramon, who put up 10/6/8 with just one turnover against the Cavs.
- 8. Delonte West picked Milwaukee's pocket eight times tonight. Eight steals for West, compared to seven for the Bucks. And he didn't commit a single turnover, so that's pretty productive. He shouldn't quit his night job.
- 5. Sitting Jefferson, Villanueva, and Sessions (when you already are missing Bogut/Redd) at the same time is hoping, begging, pleading to not make a shot for five minutes. Coincidentally, the Damon Jones/Luke Ridnour/Charlie Bell/Keith Bogans/Francisco Elson (with a little Malik Allen mixed in for additional fun) lineup Scott Skiles tried out combined to shoot 0-7 in the first five minutes of the second quarter. The Bucks needed exactly 60 seconds to go on a 6-0 run after Sessions and co. returned... but then didn't score again for a few minutes. Milwaukee started the quarter shooting 1-15 from the field. And that's your game summary in an awkward nutshell of a paragraph, folks.
- 20.0 %. So you probably shouldn't be surprised that Milwaukee's bench shot 5-25 (.200) from the field, as Allen (2-4 with 4 points) was the only guy who didn't embarrass.
- Tradeoff. Sure, the Bucks dropped another decision to an offseason trade partner after falling to the Nets on Tuesday at the BC. But Yi Jianlian and Bobby Simmons were quiet, and Mo Williams didn't exactly steal the show either. The losses don't have you in the mood to celebrate, but without Redd and Bogut, this is the right time to feel grateful that Sessions (not Williams) is starting at point guard, Villanueva (not Yi) is starting at power forward, and Jefferson is here to pick up some of the scoring slack. Uncertainty clouds the future, but I don't even want to imagine the present without the offseason deals with the Nets and Cavs.
- Keeping close. Cleveland shows no mercy, and this looked like a blowout from minute one. I'm not sure what the Bucks were doing within eight points more than halfway through the third quarter, but I wouldn't mention it if that weren't true.
- No more Cavs. After failing in four chances against the Cavs, at least Milwaukee is done playing them. Right?
- Four more? If the Bucks somehow manage to hold onto the eight spot for five more weeks, there is a real possibility they will match up with the Cavaliers in the first round. As a witness, blending LeBron, Milwaukee, and the playoffs sounds like fun. For the Bucks, maybe not so much. The Cavs scored a 4-0 season sweep over the Bucks, perhaps foretelling Milwaukee's fate in the event they play in the postseason.
- Noffense. This marked the fourth game out of five that the Bucks failed to reach triple digits in scoring. Worse, they have lost each of those four contests. The Cavs are a suffocating defensive team, and they boast a particularly impenetrable fortress in Cleveland. Nonetheless, 73 points is 73 points, and it also happens to be the fewest the Bucks have scored this season. Luke Ridnour (0 points on 0-7 shooting with 4 turnovers) and Charlie Villanueva (under 10 points for the first time since Jan. 17) were two of the foremost non-offense-offenders.
- Friday night eight-date. Not all of these losses to the Cavs are created equally. LeBron's 55 highlighted a spirited, historical match at the BC, memorable in spite of the outcome. The thoroughly zestless follow-up was merely another loss, as Milwaukee's tenuous grip on the final playoff spot keeps on slip-slip-slipping... they are now tied with the Bulls (who won tonight) going into Friday night's date in Chicago.